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New postseason model benefits Rose Bowl, access

The latest college football postseason model addresses the three biggest issues facing the commissioners going forward -- access, the Rose Bowl and money.

Call it the ARM solution.

What was termed a "four-team plus" was the only new model put forward in a memo sent to stakeholders this week. The Rose Bowl would get the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions, its traditional game, each year. If either of those two teams, or both, are in the top four -- their vacated spots in the top four would be filled by the next highest-ranked teams.

The best historic example would be 2005. Pac-10 champ USC was No. 1. Penn State was the highest-ranked Big Ten team at No. 3. (Penn State and No. 4 Ohio State tied for the Big Ten that year at 7-1.)

Under the four-team plus model, No. 2 Texas, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Oregon and No. 6 Notre Dame would have played in the national semifinals. Texas vs. Notre Dame and Oregon vs. Ohio State. The winners would advance to a pool containing the Penn State-USC winner.

Let's say Texas and Oregon and USC win that year. What this week's memo doesn't address is how to pick two teams out of that group of three. In this example, probably USC and Texas would play (as they did in the BCS system). There is no mention made in the memo, though, about how the two teams would be selected. Current formula? Human committee?

If it's the current formula, here's a nightmare scenario that may not have been considered: No. 1 USC loses to Penn State and still ranks No. 1 or No. 2. It already happened with No. 1 Oklahoma losing the 2003 Big 12 title game to Kansas State.

But the underlying achievement of a four-team plus is that the access would have been extended all the way to No. 6. To stay away from any legal challenges, the new postseason structure must account for the possibility of non-automatic qualifiers getting in.

There are still issues. The current model provides for the highest ranked non-automatic qualifier ranked in the top 12 to be in a BCS bowl. That access is moved down to the top 16 if that team finishes ahead of any BCS conference champion.

The latest proposal isn't considered front burner but does point up the Rose Bowl's importance to the system. With the Big Ten and Pac-12 as partners, it controls one-fifth of FBS. Essentially, nothing can move in the postseason without accounting for the Rose and its partners.

This proposal would make the Rose more relevant, perhaps, than at any time following the formation of the BCS in 1998. When the BCS started, the traditional Rose Pac-10-Big Ten structure was altered for the first time since 1947.

The Rose Bowl has always maintained its desire to keep its original structure. What no one is saying on the record is the Rose does not want to be a national semifinal. Pac-12 ADs discussed as much during a meeting last August. In other words, the Rose does not view favorably anything that makes the bowl a part of a playoff instead of the Granddaddy Of Them All.

This week's memo confirms that the commissioners are at least willing to give the Rose special consideration in the new model. Officials at all the major bowls have been anxious about how -- or even whether -- they would fit in the new postseason.

While there is still some of that consternation, it's clear there will be attempts to give special consideration to the Rose Bowl. That special consideration was evident -- at least in this space -- going back 3 1/2 years.

One source speculated that the commissioners may be wanting to get away from the “war chest” idea of bowls trying to buy their way into a playoff. In January, Sugar Bowl executive Paul Hoolahan talked openly of $40 million his organization had stashed away to bid on inclusion into a new postseason model.

Mentioned in this week's memo, and previously inside the room by the commissioners, is a bidding process for neutral site playoff games. CBSSports.com has reported all the other aspects contained in Wednesday's memo including the elimination of automatic qualifiers and idea of a true plus-one, two teams meeting after all the bowls are played.

That loops in the money discussion. A four-team structure has been valued at $360 million per year -- basically, double the value of the current deal. What is becoming clear is that number doesn't change much whether the games are played in bowls, bidded-out cities or at neutral sites.

"Adding another game is not going to significantly going to change the value," a source said.

Meanwhile, the Rose has been a silent and casual observer in the process. Its game has been altered during the BCS. Currently, if either or both of its champions are ranked in the top two it lost those team(s) to the BCS title game. It is in the four-year rotation for the championship game and, since 2006, part of the double-hosting model. In 2010 (2009 season), it hosted Ohio State-Oregon in the true Rose Bowl game. That was followed by the Alabama-Texas championship game.

The Rose's “casual” presence in the BCS was called by one source a "pass through." It negotiates its own network contract apart from the BCS. Its financial structure is such that it pays into the BCS pot money that is to be shared equally by other partners.

The one-stream financial approach makes it so that the Rose is never in a position to be gathering a war chest to remain in the BCS. Both sides know that it's a symbiotic relationship. They need each other. If college football went back to the old bowl structure before 1992, the Rose Bowl would still be the Rose Bowl -- partnering with those powerful conferences -- rich, powerful and part of the sport's fabric.

--Brett McMurphy contributed to this blog

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
 
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